Aeolian Microbes

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Science  22 May 2009:
Vol. 324, Issue 5930, pp. 989-991
DOI: 10.1126/science.324_989d

In their day, Darwin and Pasteur both commented on microbe-bearing dust plumes from Africa. Climate change is exacerbating this phenomenon, and Hervàs et al. have investigated the potential for oligotrophic alpine lakes as sentinels for long-distance bacterial dispersal. Using 16S rRNA sequences, they compared the bacterial genera found in Mauritanian soil samples with those in dust plume samples deposited in the Spanish Pyrenees and also examined the growth of the microbes in alpine lake water. Although the findings revealed the immigration capacity of certain taxa, many of the bacteria that survive passage to the Pyrenees are not spore-forming species. Some of the African soil samples contain organisms that do not survive air transport, such as the cosmopolitan Duganella zoogloeoides, and pathogens, such as Sphingomonas, that have been implicated in coral disease in the Caribbean.

Environ. Microbiol. 11, 10.1111/j.1462-2920.2009.01926.x (2009).

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